Pinebox (2017) short film review

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The death of a young boy inspires the local simpleton to find a customer for his handmade casket in D,R, Tibbets’ short film – Pinebox. Check out our review.

 Pinebox (2017) short film review

According to reports by the FBI hate crimes in the US against the LGBT community are on the rise. Compiling data from more than 15,000 law enforcement agencies around the US, the Bureau’s 2016 Hate Crimes and Statistics report, indicates there were 6,121 hate crimes in 2016 which was an increase of 5% from 2015.

Of the single-bias incidents, of which there were 6,063, 17.7% which is around 1100, were motivated by sexual orientation which is a 2% increase from 2015.

In reality, the numbers are likely higher, as not all jurisdictions include sexual orientation or gender identity in hate crime statistics.

The US has many problems at the moment and while racism is often highlighted, homophobia is also a huge issue. There are many small towns in the US exactly like the one highlighted in Pinebox where gay and lesbian teenagers are seen as an embarrassment, sinful, and sometimes even criminals. With these kids having no support network this can often lead to some very unfortunate circumstances. The writer/director of Pinebox, D.R. Tibbits, attempts to address these issues with a lovingly crafted human tale of grief, hope, and acceptance.

Following the death of two teenage boys, Merle, a funeral parlor janitor with learning difficulties. attends the service for one of them. He immediately stands out from the crowd and it’s clear he never knew the child or the family and at the wake, he is unceremoniously thrown out by the grieving father. From his frequent visits to a cafe, we learn that Merle has a habit of attending the funerals of strangers and also has a hobby of making his own wooden caskets.

As local oddball Merle, Kevin Breznahan gives an absolutely tremendous performance, he avoids the folksy sentimentality of Forrest Gump and the dumb innocence of Slingblade, yet manages to convey both of these characters in his wonderfully nuanced and un-showy performance.

As the lead role in the short, Breznahan is the stand out but all the cast are very strong in this film, Brian Finney as Lew, Merle’s boss, hits all the right notes with his portrayal of a caring-yet-business savvy funeral director, while Ann Magnuson and Cameron Dye as the grieving parents are excellent. Showing completely different versions of grief, Magnuson’s mum coping with the loss of her son and Dye as her husband coping not only with the same loss but also with the embarrassment and shame that his son has caused him. The performances throughout the 16-minute runtime are consistently brilliant and they help heighten the emotional punch and hammer home the points of Tibbets’ script.

pineboxCLOUDSUP 200x300 Pinebox (2017) short film reviewThe actors are all successful and regularly working performers and it just goes to show that, while asking your friends to be in your short films may be cheap, getting hold of professional actors will not only make your project stand out but it can also make your project a hundred times better.

The cinematography by Michael Hartzel is also top notch. His use of enclosed spaces with the odd tracking shot and zoom help add to the small town atmosphere and create a claustrophobic sense of closeness. While the use of colour with browns and greens add an autumnal feeling to proceedings, giving an overall sense of death and dying but without the darkness that comes with it and the subject matter. The use of music pushes the right buttons, helping stir up real emotions of love, anger, and sadness.

Yes, I know we are only in February but Pinebox is one of the best short films so far this year and I have a feeling it is going to be in the running for a number of awards this year and no doubt will win many of them. D.R. Tibbetts is an exceptional talent and I am really looking forward to seeing what he comes up with next.

Much like one of Merle’s caskets, Pinebox is a simple creation, lovingly crafted, expertly made, and does its job brilliantly.

5 / 5 stars     

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